NUS Module Review — AY 16/17

Hey everyone! By way of introduction, I’m Nathaniel — a double degree graduate (Mechanical Engineering & Economics) from the National University of Singapore.

After 5 arduous years of tertiary education, I can finally say that I have graduated and have 2 degrees with honours under my belt! As a way of giving back to the community, I will be writing a thorough, no-nonsense module review on the modules that I have taken over the past 5 years. This will also include some tips and tricks I utilized to score a decent grade for my modules. With that, let the reviews begin!

  • Disclaimer: I can’t seem to have a cohesive recollection on the modules regarding AY 16/17 and 17/18 (my Y1 and Y2 respectively) along with my low amount of effort placed into them (I only started to buck up and snag the A’s from Y3 onwards), so do take my review with a pinch of salt. Further, the modules seem to have changed over my academic journey (be it the module code or the overall syllabus), so they may not be the best gauge on what you are planning to take in the near future.

AY16/17 Semester 1

MA1505 — Mathematics I

Lecturer: 4 groups of 4 different lecturers, I took mine under Chew Tuan Seng
Assessment Rubric: 20% Midterms, 80% Finals
Module Content:

  1. Functions, Limits, and Continuity
  2. Differentiation
  3. Integration
  4. Sequences and Series
  5. Vectors
  6. Fourier Series
  7. Functions of Several Variables
  8. Multiple Integrals
  9. Line Integrals
  10. Surface Integrals

One of the core modules to attain an Engineering degree. The first 5 lectures are a recap of the H2 Mathematics syllabus in Junior College (assuming you took H2 Math in JC), with a slight extension in the content like L’Hopital’s Rule, etc. The next 5 lectures are a further extension in H2 Mathematics, with a deep focus in integration — you’ll learn how to conduct triple integration, integration over lines like Green’s Theorem, and surface integration over different types of solids and utilizing Stoke’s Theorem. Also, you’ll learn how to create new functions involving constraints, with economists calling it a Lagrangian problem. Do not be daunted by the overwhelming content in the module, but try to keep your study schedule consistent by practicing on the problem sets every week. The overall content is manageable provided you put in the practice and the hard work. I would say that the relatively confusing content will be the last 3 chapters of the syllabus, but with practice you’ll be able to figure out all the different theorems eventually.

Pro tip: Utilize some of your Junior College notes to revise some of the initial content (especially for the first 3–5 chapters). University notes especially for a freshie, will seem really un-intuitive and messy, as no one is going to spoon feed you with good notes (harsh reality that will be set onto you as you’re journeying through university lol). Acing the midterms/finals is simply a grind through the “10 year series” of examination papers that Prof will release on LumiNUS. Also, I would suggest to attend Prof Chew Tuan Seng’s lectures since I felt he was the only coherent lecturer amongst the 4 groups (you’ll be pre-assigned to a random lecture group, but feel free to just crash another lecture if it fits your schedule). With the whole Engineering cohort taking this module as a pre-requisite, it would be wise to place more effort in scoring well for this module since the bell curve wouldn’t be too harsh for someone that is coming into university as a freshie.

PC 1431 — Physics I

Lecturer: Dr Lim Yen Kheng
Assessment Rubric: 10% Online Assignment, 10% Lab Session, 20% Midterms, 60% Finals
Module Content (Split into 2 main sections):

(a) Mechanics

  • Kinematics up to 3D
  • Newton’s Law of Motion
  • Energy, Momentum, and Impulse
  • Rotation of Rigid Bodies
  • Dynamics of Rotational Motion

(b) Thermodynamics

  • First Law of Thermodynamics
  • Second Law of Thermodynamics
  • Kinetic Theory of Gases

PC1431 used to be a pre-requisite for prior engineering batches, but I think it has been removed for subsequent batches entering Faculty of Engineering. I honestly have a vague memory of what actually happened in this module considering how the tutorials were seemingly impossible to solve (for me at least) and the lecture content was so overwhelming. I guess this is coming from someone that didn’t have an inclination for H2 Physics during Junior College, which explained why I was struggling so badly with this module. At that moment, I was just cruising in auto-pilot mode and looking to SU this module... However, I would like to think that if H2 Physics was your jam back in Junior College, this module will turn out to be fine for you (evidently seen by some of my peers that were strong in H2 Physics).

Pro tip: Try to attend the tutorials, as it will be your prime time to bombard all your burning questions to the teaching assistants (shout out to Mr Raditya, he really saved me for this module). If you have a hard time grasping the deeper concepts and nuances for the mechanics portion, try to place more emphasis in mastering thermodynamics since it will save you for your finals. I could remember that the last question for thermodynamics was a whopping 20 marks (1/3 of the total paper) and those that did not attempt to internalize the theories will be heavily penalized (Carnot’s equation, etc). This is in contrast to the remaining mechanics related question — it will be hard, but you could scrape through by filling in the relative equations (similar to H2 Physics) and attaining some method marks. Apart from that, I apologize for having no real tip for this module since I didn’t have a true flair for PC1431 woops!

EG1111 — Engineering Principles and Practice I

Lecturer: (?) I can’t seem to remember…
Assessment Rubric: 50% Studio/Lab Assignments, 10% Individual Presentation, 20% Midterms and 20% Finals
Module Content:

  1. Basic Introduction on Principles — Guess-timation and Visualization
  2. Equilibrium of Particles (Drawing of Free Body Diagrams)
  3. Work, Energy and Power
  4. Deformation and Failure (Stress, Strains, Young’s Modulus, Hooke’s Law)
  5. Beam Bending and Failure
  6. Fluid Statics, Flows and Conservation Laws

Another pre-requisite for Engineering majors but I think it is re-coded into ME1102 for AY20/21 onwards. A slight thing to note for my review will be that we were the first batch to be introduced with EG1111 so you guys can guess…. the module was a CS/CU for us LOL! We were even allowed to skip up to 2 studio sessions, thus showing how chill this module was haha. As this was a non-graded module, I honestly did not put in much work into studying or focusing for this module (another shout-out to my EG1111 group that helped me to enjoy my first semester in Engineering — Team BOB LOOOOL). Due to my non-existent effort placed for this module, I would like to re-direct the readers to other module reviews covering this module since I literally have 0 value add for you.

FAS1102 — Public Writing and Communication

Lecturer: Ms Christina Havadjia
Assessment Rubric: 25% Blogpost, 25% Film Review, 20% Oral Presentation, 10% Reflection Letter, 20% Tutorial Participation
Module Content:

  1. Writing of E-mails
  2. Language and Rhetorical Questions
  3. Credibility in Sources
  4. Coherence in Writing
  5. Writing of Film Reviews
  6. Preparation of Persuasive Presentations

This module will be a substitute of ES2331 for double degree students taking Engineering and Economics (now discontinued and re-coded into ES2531, and for FASS students it is re-coded into FAS1103). I have a vague memory for this module as well since I was still adjusting into university life at that point of the time, hence very little effort and emphasis was placed into this module. We were tasked to write a blogpost on a social issue happening in Singapore (I wrote about migrant workers and discrimination) and a film review, as well as to present a persuasive presentation based on our group’s blogposts. Apart from that, tutorial participation will be engaging with your teacher in class and answering general questions. Nothing too crazy, but more of a module to enhance your presentation and writing skills as you embark on your university journey.

Pro tip: A good way to do well is to grab some samples of your seniors’ essays (especially those in FASS and in more artsy courses), which will show you how APA citation is done and the proper way to format and write essays. Do try to engage more in class and be confident for your oral presentation as every segment of your assessment rubric is important to attain a good grade. Lastly, for those that are rusty in writing essays, do look up some grammatical and vocabulary stuff as they will be important to churn out university-quality essays. Just to note, I completely did not do anything that were suggested above, and this will be my proposed strategy to tackle this module should I have the chance to redo this module all over.

EC1101E — Introduction to Economic Analysis

Lecturer: Dr Ong Ee Cheng (Micro), Chan Kok Hoe (Macro)
Assessment Rubric: 6% Pre-Lecture Quiz, 9% Post-Lecture Quiz, 10% Tutorial Participation, 25% Midterms(MCQ and Short Answer Questions), 50% Finals (MCQ and Short Answer Questions)
Module Content:

  1. Micro-economics
  2. Macro-economics

This module is a pre-requisite for Economics majors. The module content is largely similar to GCE A Levels Economics (be it H1 or H2), with the nuance that the analysis will be more quantitative by nature- say bye to writing essays! Treat the problem sets seriously and clear all doubts during your tutorials, as they are (1) used to reinforce all your concepts and (2) a precursor to the structure of your upcoming midterms/finals.

Pro tip: Assuming nothing has changed during the past 5 years, the midterm will have a heavy question on Scarcity and Competitive Advantage, so do know how to address this. Also, do try to link concepts together since you’ll be working on a time pressure to address all the MCQs during midterms/finals, where you’ll be given around 1–1.5 minutes per question. Other than that, the module was taken so long ago that I personally can’t recall what actually happened… so you readers will have to find more updated information at other review pages oops!

GER1000 — Quantitative Reasoning

Lecturer: (?) I can’t seem to remember
Assessment Rubric: 5% Online Quiz, 10% Tutorial Participation, 20% Midterms (14 MCQs), 25% Group Project, 40% Finals (28 MCQs)
Module Content:

  1. Design of Statistical Studies
  2. Association
  3. Sampling
  4. Probability
  5. Network
  6. Uncertainty and Projections

This module is part of every student’s GEM basket under the GER section. Nothing too out of the ordinary as some of the concepts are taught under the H2 Mathematics — Statistics segment. However, careless mistakes are very common in this module and will be very costly to your final grade, so do master all the concepts involved and you’ll do fine for this module. The group project involved analyzing a statistics-related problem — which my group reviewed and article on the association of sunlight and vitamin D deficiency. From there, you’re supposed to answer if association=causation, address any potential confounders, or identify any other nuances in the study given your existing knowledge taught in this module.

Pro tip: Do ask your seniors for past year exam questions which are circulated internally amongst peers, so you’ll have a good grasp of what questions will be likely to pop up in your midterms/finals. I did not place too much emphasis on this module, but I wished I could have studied harder for this — since the cohort is really large and you can utilize the bell curve to your advantage (i.e quite a number of students will give up on this module).

AY16/17 Semester 2

MA1506 — Mathematics II

Lecturer: 4 groups of 4 different lecturers, I took mine under Dr Chew Tuan Seng
Assessment Rubric: 20% Midterms, 80% Finals
Module Content:

  1. Ordinary Differential Equations
  2. Simple Harmonic Oscillators
  3. Population Modeling
  4. Laplace Transforms
  5. Matrices
  6. Linear Transformations
  7. Systems of ODEs
  8. Partial Differential Equations

Another mandatory module for Engineering majors, but I think it has been re-coded into MA1512 and MA1513. The content in this module will no longer be related to anything you’ve learnt back in H2 Mathematics, but it will not be too hard to digest given the same tip as MA1505 — grind out all the past year papers and you’ll be fine. Mathematics is always about consistent practice and finding the tiny nuances to enhance your problem solving skills, so this module is no different from any other Mathematics content that you have taken/studied.

Pro tip: Attend and use Prof Chew Tuan Seng’s notes (if he is still teaching this course), as it is the most structured way to solve the problems in the exam. Next, practice the past year papers and internalize the concepts till you’re a master at it. Lastly, please practice the last chapter (Partial Differential Equations — Separation variables for PDE, Wave equations, Heat equations, and Laplace equations) till you can do it blind folded since its a literal giveaway by applying the formula and comprises of 10–15% of the final paper. I was doing well for my midterms and the progress of my finals till I choked on Chapter 8 due to my lackluster knowledge and it bit me on the backside real bad for my final grade.

CS1010E — Programming Methodology

Lecturer: Prof Joxan Jaffar
Assessment Rubric: 50% Sit in Labs (5 Labs in total), 10% Midterms, 40% Finals
Module Content:

  1. Basic Variables and Assignments
  2. If-Else, While, Do Loops
  3. Functions
  4. Arrays, Matrices, and Dictionaries
  5. Strings and Pointers

Another core module for Engineering majors, and by far one of the most painful modules taken when I was Y1 for a multitude of reasons. First, Prof was just verbating during the lecture without showing any actual example or his thought process in writing code. This did not help with poorly constructed lecture notes that left me in perpetual confusion for most of the time. Second, the module was taught in C as compared to Python in recent times, which was so much more painful due to the incessant need to gcc compile your file, having 0 access to libraries and each variable needing to be identified…. and the list goes on. Yes to all of you Python takers, please appreciate how much this module has progressed instead of ranting over it on a damn daily basis. The finals had to be written in pseudo code, which was even more painful considering how much time you spent typing code and writing during the exam will come about as un-intuitive.

Pro tip: Despite the technical difficulty of the module, the bell curve is surprisingly not that steep as many individuals would give up on the module (since you have the ability to SU). As such, utilize it to your advantage and try to hone your computational and logical thinking skills when you need to write code out. Its all about practice, practice, and practice. Besides, placing effort into this module will reap benefits in the future as you embark on more advanced programming modules or if you intend to pivot into software engineering from a traditional engineering degree.

EG1112 — Engineering Principles and Practice II

Lecturer: (?) I can’t seem to remember
Assessment Rubric: 50% Studio/Lab Assignments, 10% Individual Presentation, 20% Midterms and 20% Finals
Module Content:

  • Apologies for being unable to recall the module content — it was mainly about electricity and power(circuit boards, motors, etc), essentially more electrical engineering knowledge in this module.

Needless to say, this was the same rubric as EG1111 (EG1112 is re-coded into ME2104), along with it being on a CS/CU graded basis — hence the non-existent effort yet again. I honestly just scrapped by every week including my exams (studying 1 day before), so do check out other module review pages as I have 0 value add for you with regards to this module haha….

ES1531 — Critical Thinking and Writing

Lecturer: Mr Julian (I think…)
Assessment Rubric: 30% Individual Assignment, 30% Group Assignment and Presentation, 30% Finals, 10% Personal Reflection
Module Content:

  • Nothing structured, more of learning how to structure arguments in a “PEEL” fashion and thinking critically.

I think this module has been re-coded into ES2531(?) and the review for this should be pretty obsolete. Just to summarize, students taking this module will be tasked to structure arguments and evaluate them. You’ll have a hands on experience with writing in such a format during your first assignment, which will give you a full flavor on what to expect for your group work and your finals. The group project will take it up a notch, which teams will identify any probable engineering solutions (to tackle the United Nations’ SDG Goals) and structure the essay in an “ES1531” format. With that, you’ll have enough experience under your belt to tackle the finals, which will be a hit or miss depending on how well you structure your arguments.

GEQ1000 — Asking Questions

Lecturer: (?) I can’t seem to remember
Assessment Rubric: Definitely can’t remember this too LOL sorry
Module Content (Topics segmented into the following):

  1. Physics
  2. Engineering
  3. Computing
  4. Philosophy

Another compulsory module in a student’s GEM basket (did anyone say this is a CS/CU module? :) ). Honestly speaking, the sloppy review speaks for itself, considering how sloppy the module was. I only remembered it being an enjoyable 2 hour tutorial to take with your peers since you didn’t need to use your brain and internalize anything. I’ll leave it to you to decipher what the module is all about, but you would most probably end up with the same outcome as me haha. In all seriousness, the module emphasizes how good questions can be asked, and we’ll try to apply it into the different topics listed above!

GEH1041 — Engaging the Natural Environment in ASEAN

Lecturer: Eusoff Hall Master (Dr Goh Beng Lan)
Assessment Rubric: 10% Fieldwork Discussion, 15% Class Participation, 15% Individual Reflection, 30% Pair Essay, 30% Group Presentation and Report
Module Content:

  • No structured syllabus for this module, more on discussion of different factors (economic, social, political) occurring in ASEAN countries

I don’t think this module requires a review since it is only accessible for students residing in Temasek and Eusoff Hall, and embarking on an OCIP trip. If you happen to browse through this module as part of Eusoff Expeditions, feel free to PM me and I can walk you through on what I did for this module.

*On hindsight, I think my module review for Y1 was not really a value add, considering how I didn’t take my studies too seriously. As we progress into the later years (especially Y3, Y4, and Y5), it will be really insightful as I started to buck up and attempted to pull my CAP from a Second Upper into a First Class (which I successful did, hurray!).



I write about venture capital, equity research, and data analysis.

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